Have you experienced carrots or turnips being sweeter or more flavourful in the cooler months?
This phenomenon actually has a name - Winter sweetening we see in some vegetables is common for those that grow naturally in cold weather. The first Autumn or Winter frost causes damage to some vegetables but most root crops not only survive but they thrive in this situation.
This is due partially to their ability to convert starch to sugar. Over the course of the growing season, vegetables store up starch. Then when the temperatures drop, the starch converts into sugar – sort of like the vegetables' very own “antifreeze”. This change takes a while but as the season’s change, if you pick your root vegetables sometime after the first frost then you can be assured they will taste a lot sweeter than if you had picked them in the middle of Summer. This is true for carrots, turnips, and beet, as well as other crops such as brussel sprouts, broccoli, leafy greens, and kale.
There is one plant that does not like the frost and doesn’t experience Winter sweetening and it is the humble potato. Potatoes are always prized for their starch – so are best before this process starts in the cooler months.
So – here’s to sweet Autumn produce! Warm and sweet to you, from Mother Nature.